Q. I’ve had DIRECTV for several years, but I’ve been wondering about getting DIRECTV Now instead. What’s the benefit of getting one over the other? – Rob, Cleveland, Ohio.
Rob, that’s a great question. I’m sure that AT&T’s launch of DIRECTV Now, the live streaming service, has caused many subscribers to the satellite edition to wonder if they should make the switch. After all, AT&T, which owns both, seems to be promoting DIRECTV Now more than DIRECTV.
There are basically three reasons why you might want to make the switch, and three reasons why you might not.
Let’s start with the three reasons to switch.
1. DIRECTV Now is less expensive.
DIRECTV Now’s plans run from $35 a month (60+ channels) to $70 a month (120+ channels).
While DIRECTV offers a $35 a month plan (‘Select’) for new customers, existing customers are forced to pay a minimum of $54 a month (for Select) after the ‘new customer’ promotional period ends. And some DIRECTV plans can cost more than $100 a month, particularly when you add all the extra fees.
In contrast, DIRECTV Now has no monthly set-top fees, or cancellation fees.
2. You can cancel DIRECTV Now anytime.
And that brings us to point #2. If you are enrolled in one of DIRECTV’s two-year promotional plans, you will be charged $20 a month for every month left in your agreement if you terminate early.
With DIRECTV Now, however, you can cancel anytime with no penalty.
3. You can get free stuff.
To encourage consumers to give DIRECTV Now a try, the live streamer frequently offers free streaming devices with pre-paid subscriptions. For instance, DIRECTV Now is now giving away a free Apple TV (valued at $179) if you agree to pre-pay for three months of the live streaming service.
The deal is a good value if you’ve been considering buying the new version of the Apple TV. Three months of DIRECTV Now’s basic plan (“Live a Little” package, which includes 60 channels) would come to $105 total while the Apple TV’s lowest price is $179.
Now, here are three reasons why you might not want to switch:
1. DIRECTV Now is less reliable than DIRECTV.
While DIRECTV has occasional picture issues due to moderate to heavy rain, DIRECTV Now’s 15-month history is filled with frustrating examples of technical snafus, from buffering to picture freezing to complete system outages.
It should be noted that the live streaming service has improved over the last several months. But it is still vulnerable to picture interruptions, particularly during a show with high viewership.
2. DIRECTV has more channels, and more programming options.
DIRECTV has more than 300 channels available while DIRECTV Now tops out at slightly more than 120. Consequently, some of your favorite niche channels currently on DIRECTV may not be available on DIRECTV Now.
In addition, DIRECTV has the NFL Sunday Ticket while DIRECTV Now does not. The satellite service also offers the MLB Extra Innings, NBA League Pass and NHL Center Ice packages. DIRECTV Now does not.
3. DIRECTV offers more local channels, and more regional sports channels.
DIRECTV Now has been very aggressive in adding local channels, but the satellite service still offers more local channels in more markets. In addition, DIRECTV carries more regional sports channels than DIRECTV Now.
So, Rob, there you go. As with most things in life, your choice depends on your priorities. If price is most important to you, DIRECTV Now might be your answer. But if greater choice and reliability are most important to you, DIRECTV is likely your best choice.
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